The lung is involved in juvenile dermatomyositis

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2013 Oct;48(10):1016-25. doi: 10.1002/ppul.22742. Epub 2012 Dec 31.


Background: Juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM) is the main cause of chronic idiopathic inflammatory myopathy of autoimmune origin in children. The aim of this multicenter prospective study was to describe respiratory status and treatment of children followed for JDM.

Methods and patients: Clinical manifestations, pulmonary function tests (PFT), chest high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) scan results, and treatments and their adverse effects were analyzed in children followed for JDM.

Results: Twenty-one patients (median age: 9.9 years; range: 20 months-18 years) were included. The median of disease duration at the time of the analysis was 3 years (range: 6 months-9 years 4 months). Overall 16 (76%) of 21 children presented with a respiratory involvement related to JDM including interstitial lung disease (n = 3) and/or respiratory muscle involvement (n = 7). Seven patients presented with other nonspecific manifestations. Three children had aspiration pneumonia. A chest HRCT was performed in 15 children, and abnormalities were observed in 12. PFT were performed in 20 of 21 patients. Seven showed functional abnormalities: restrictive ventilatory defect (n = 3) or obstructive ventilatory defect (n = 4). Six patients had abnormal respiratory muscle tests, including three with a restrictive ventilatory defect and one with an obstructive ventilatory defect. One other child with an acute aspiration pneumonia had a clearly muscle respiratory involvement but was too young to perform respiratory muscle tests and confirm this diagnosis. Treatment comprised systemic corticosteroid for all patients and adjuvant immunosuppressive therapy for 11. Adverse effects linked to treatment were reported in eight patients.

Conclusion: The frequency of lung involvement in children with JDM justifies systematic respiratory assessment with PFT including measures of respiratory muscle strength. We suggest that a chest HRCT scan is indicated in cases of respiratory symptoms and/or PFT abnormalities. Longitudinal studies are needed to assess pediatric characteristics, long-term outcomes, and responses to treatment taking into account the risk-benefit ratio.

Keywords: child; diaphragm; interstitial lung disease; juvenile dermatomyositis; lung.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dermatomyositis / drug therapy
  • Dermatomyositis / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • France
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed

Supplementary concepts

  • Amyopathic dermatomyositis